Completing your GCSEs this summer? Wondering what the move to A levels will be like?

With the last term, and GCSE season, nearly here, we thought it would be a great opportunity to look at the step up from year 11 to year 12.

As your GCSEs, doing well in your A levels will open up more doors when it comes to your further study, and ultimately career, options.

More students are choosing to go to university, so the competition for places is tough, especially for courses at higher ranked universities, or for popular courses, and great A Level results could help you get the place you want.

Firstly, it’s important to know what you will be dealing with. Everything is going to be a little more in depth than you might have experienced previously.

You’re going to need to cover trickier concepts, with more in depth analysis, linking the subject together rather than as a series of individual ideas.

This ultimately leads to longer and harder final exams, especially as the new A Level regime no longer takes a modular approach for most subjects. With this in mind, these tips can help you get a head start and make a positive start to your A Levels.

1. Wider reading is your friend

Your teachers will probably have a specified reading list to cover, alongside textbooks that are used in class, however wider reading around your subjects can give you a better understanding of the subject, and the issues at play.

Wider reading doesn’t have to be books either – journals, newspaper articles, and scientific papers can be just as interesting and useful as picking popular titles in your subject area.

Whilst on the subject of learning around your subject, Youtube is a great resource for maths and science-based subjects. The visual aspect, and explanation can really help to bring to life trickier concepts that may seem immeasurably hard in a textbook.

It’s always worth speaking to your subject teacher for ideas – they’re likely to have read or know of some useful titles you can read to expand your knowledge and understanding.

2. Make your contributions count

As you probably know, most of your study at university, especially as you go into your second and third years, will be independently led; you’ll be expected to take charge of your own learning, and ultimately, the responsibility will be on you to do well.

Your A Level studies are a great place to start practicing this way of learning.

The new found freedom of sixth form, where  you get to go uniform-free with a more mature atmosphere and are working alongside other students who are just as eager as you to succeed can be a great way to find your own style of learning and managing your studies.

But get into good habits early on, and avoid procrastination – taking time out is important, but make sure you are up to speed with your studies, and any upcoming deadlines too.

Similarly, as an independent learner, making contributions in class is a great way to develop your ideas, and learn different points of views from your fellow students.

This helps you to develop your confidence as a learner, and is a great opportunity to practice developing a well rounded argument.

3. Review your work

Again, as an independent learner, reviewing and editing your work and ideas is essential.

Look over your notes frequently, and think about them in the context of the whole specification.

Remember that as you are examined at the end of the two years, you’re going to need to be able to recall and relate what you learnt at the start of year 12, and how that relates to what you learnt a month or two before your exams.

This sounds like a massive feat, however with ongoing good notetaking, and regular revision, this should be manageable for most students.

4. Persevere

There’s no denying it. It will be tougher at first when you start your A Levels.

But you can do it.

You got the GCSE grades to get you into sixth form, so you have every capability to do well with A Levels too – and ultimately get onto a track to your chosen career path, whether than means university or not.

So believe in yourself and complete your studies to the best of your abilities (if others can make the transition, so can you!). Wishing everyone all the best with their GCSEs and A levels this year!

Further information

For more tips and advice on GCSEs and A levels, please see: